Trump and Peña Nieto: transcript offers details of a January phone call. Trump and Peña Nieto: transcript offers details of a January phone call.

‘You can’t say that to the press:’ Trump

Transcript of Trump-Peña Nieto call offers insight into relationship between them

United States President Donald Trump repeatedly urged his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, to stop declaring that Mexico would not pay for a border wall during a telephone call in January.


Trump’s insistence was revealed in a transcript of the call, published today by the Washington Post, which also offered more insight into the relationship between the two leaders and their stance on a range of issues.

It took place on January 27, just a week after Trump’s inauguration.

During the hour-long conversation the pair discussed the proposed border wall, trade, migration issues, transnational crime and strategies to defeat Mexican drug cartels, among other issues. While parts of the call had been previously disclosed, the transcript reveals the conversation in its entirety.

Perhaps most significantly, Trump was insistent that the Mexican president stop publicly declaring that Mexico would not pay for the border wall.

After Peña Nieto said, “. . . my position has been and will continue to be very firm saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall,” Trump responded, “But you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that and I cannot live with that.”

Trump reiterated his point, stressing, “I have to have Mexico pay for the wall — I have to.  I have been talking about it for a two-year period.”


He even threatened to cease negotiations if Peña Nieto didn’t heed his advice.

“. . . If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I don’t want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”

However, in an apparent realization that forcing Mexico to pay for the wall was not realistic and alternative funding would have to be found, Trump instead pressured Peña Nieto to agree to say “we will work it out,” when questioned on the issue.

“We should both say, we will work it out. It will work out in the formula somehow,” Trump suggested. “As opposed to you saying, ‘We will not pay’ and me saying, ‘We will not pay.’”

He also said there were more significant issues, opening the door for a compromise and an opportunity to develop a more positive relationship.

“From an economic issue, it’s the least important thing we’re talking about, but psychologically, it means something, so let us just say, we will work it out.”

Peña Nieto said the wall “is an issue related to the dignity of Mexico and goes to the national pride of my country” but he also suggested that they find “a creative way to jump over this obstacle” and “move forward on other issues that are positive for both of our countries.”

While Trump considered that a fair proposal, he had already spent a large portion of the first part of the call telling Peña Nieto that the U.S. could no longer accept the loss of jobs and money to Mexico.

He spoke harshly about the US $60-billion trade deficit the U.S. has with Mexico in what the Washington Post described as a “heated exchange” and said that in lieu of meeting with him (as he did during his campaign) he simply wanted to impose a substantial tax on products crossing the border into the United States, without any prior discussion.

“It could be 10% or 15% or it could be 35% for some products that, for example, are jobs ripped from their foundation and moved to Mexico.” Later in the call he said, “The powers of taxation are tremendous for the president of the United States.”

However, he said that his advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner had persuaded him to meet with Peña Nieto because of the good relationship he has with Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray, who he described as “a very smart man.”

Turning to the war on drugs, Trump described cartel leaders as “pretty tough hombres” and even seemed to make an offer to send U.S. military forces into Mexico to combat them.

“Our military will knock them out like you never thought of . . . . Your citizens are being killed . . . your police officers are being shot in the head, and your children are being killed. And we will knock them out.”

While Peña Nieto agreed that the two countries should work together on the issue, he countered that drug trafficking in Mexico is “largely supported by the illegal amounts of money and weapons coming from the United States.”

At other moments during the call Trump adopted a softer, more conciliatory tone telling his counterpart “you and I will always be friends” and that if they reached agreement on their differences over border and trade issues, “We will almost become the fathers of our country — almost, not quite, okay?”

He also said, “It is you and I against the world, Enrique, do not forget,” and seemingly oblivious that Peña Nieto’s approval rating was just 12% at the time — the lowest presidential approval rating in decades — also said: “I want you to be so popular that your people will call for a constitutional amendment in Mexico so that you can run again for another six years.”

The Washington Post also obtained a transcript of a call between Trump and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

That call, in which they discussed a contentious refugee swap deal, exceeded the call with Peña Nieto in terms of hostility with Trump saying, “Putin was a pleasant call” but “This is ridiculous.”

Source: Washington Post (en)

CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story incorrectly stated the Mexico-U.S. trade deficit was US $60 million.

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  • Güerito

    I believe that should be 60 *Billion* dollar trade deficit, not million.

    • Güerito

      Wow. Still not corrected….

  • Michael C

    Donnie is one scared and desperate hombre! The walls are closing in more rapidly! Adios!

    • jwd

      You think the man that defeated both the Democratic and the Republican Parties to become President is scared? Pissed at the “Shithole” that is our Capital, its corruption and the dishonest media? Yes, afraid, you have got to be kidding! No one can think straight when their vision is blinded by hatred!

  • bety

    Trump is so disgusting and child-like that makes EPN look brave, intelligent, presidential and many other things we Mexicans usually fail to say about our President.

    • jdwfinger

      everything you said is true. you forgot to add that EPN is corrupt and a thief. but all mexican officials steal, so i guess that is a moot point.

      • bety

        That is exactly my point! (maybe I failed to express it because English is not my language). In spite of all you say about EPN and most Mexican officials, sadly we are used to it, but now – for the first time in my life a USA President (Trump) looks much worse, really disgusting.

  • gypsyken

    The orange-headed fascist monster’s supporters are, of course, not criticizing what he did–they never criticize what he does, including his lying–but they are objecting to it’s being revealed. However, other news today is that the Special Counsel has convened a grand jury and is inquiring into the monster’s financial shenanigans. That increases the monster’s determination to get rid of the Special Counsel, so Democratic and Republican senators are introducing a bill to prevent that. Mercifully, the end of the nightmare that the monster has imposed on the U.S. and the world seems to be coming to an end.

    • cooncats

      Blah, blah blah, rant rant rant. Broken record Kenneth Crosby. You might want to notice what Wikileaks had to say about Russian, namely you Democrat assholes are up to your necks in it. Mueller is a Democrat, his staff are all Democrats and this is a diversionary witch hunt from a party that has nothing to offer at all.

      • gypsyken

        Robert Mueller is a Republican; Assange has demonstrated that he is not honest and that Wikileaks cannot be trusted as an unbiased source of information; and I am not a Democrat. But that is beside the point. The point is that the regime of the utterly disgusting orange-headed fascist monster is coming to an end, and there is nothing that his deluded and deplorable supporters can do about that, and I do not sympathize with your disappointment and frustration. (The religious bigot Pence won’t be better in all respects, but at least there is no evidence that he is other than morally corrupt, as the monster clearly is.)

        • Oh, Ken, Ken, Ken… Trump’s “regime is coming to an end”? I sure hope you’re not holding your breath till that happens.

      • pedrochapala

        the only broken record here is your coonstant repetition of fake news. mueller a democrat-jajajajajaj!

  • Mike S

    Trump is a classic narcissist. Pathological lying and narcissism go hand in hand because a narcissist can not accept any criticism and must constantly try and alter the truth to support his “greatness”.
    President Trump has bullied his way through his adult life. Screaming, suing, manipulating the tabloid press and allegedly chiseling employees, he has used wealth, power and a volatile personality to get his way. He bluffed, dodged, insulted and stormed his way through the campaign. For a time, his standing with the GOP base, the fear of nasty tweets (yes, politicians are wimps) and the hope that they could use him to pass their agenda led to a pathetic level of deference from GOP lawmakers. His approval rating is a historic low of 33% and may get worse. People are seeing through the conman. As long as he only remains an embarrassment and doesn’t lie us into any unnecessary wars for profit, the US (and Mexico) and the environment will survive this 4 years idiocy.

  • Commander Barkfeather

    The story (and other stories) tells me that, in the end, Mr. Trump is a weak and ineffectual leader, reduced to whimpering and pleading to another weak and ineffectual leader. Mr. Trump will not survive his term. It is obvious to all but his “deplorables” that in firing James Comey, he was obstructing justice. And we haven’t even gotten to his financial dealings yet. What I find most interesting is the dogged loyalty of his base. Without mentioning Clinton, Democrats, liberals, etc., can one of the “deplorables” (I use the term respectfully) point out the positive aspects of Donald Trump?

    • daniel pugh

      But Hillary. But Obama. But…….

    • Jay

      Well stated CB & Mike S!

    • jwd

      Lower unemployment, greatly reduced illegal immigration, rolling back of the job killing regulations of the past decade, numerous new record highs for the stock market of which most all of us participate through our retirement programs, tremendous increase in morale of our border and customs agents, improved support for our military, and increased support for our police. Of course, if none of those things are important to you, he has done and stood for nothing! Just curious, are you also a self made billionaire that defeated not only the Democratic party to be elected president, but the Republican party as well? I didn’t think so! hahaha

  • jwd

    It is so amusing reading the childish rhetoric of the Trump Haters! lol After almost a year of investigation, nothing has been found, just the hope and prayers of the Haters that something will be found. But, while all of this has been going on, the Socialistic policies of the past administration are being destroyed, the job killing rules are being eliminated, illegal aliens crossings have been reduced by 60% plus, unemployment is at a sixteen year low, and the Dow has enjoyed thirty plus all time record highs. Of course, I guess if you would rather see the USA destroyed than Trump succeeding, none of that really makes any difference!

    • Jay

      Sorry to burst your bubble, BUT..seems Mueller and you differ on opinions. Wonder why he’d impanel a grand jury. He must not have anything better to do with his time, right?

      • jwd

        As I said, “just the hope and prayers of the Haters that something will be found”. I don’t intend on wasting my time to explain law to you, but if you study just a bit, you will understand bringing forth a Grand Jury does not imply guilt. No matter how much you hope it does! “A grand jury
        is a legal body empowered to conduct official proceedings and
        investigate potential criminal conduct, and determine whether criminal
        charges should be brought.” BTW, it would not surprise me that they will find a few “Ts” that were not crossed or “Is” that were not dotted, and I am sure the Haters will claim that is akin to Treason. The problem with the Haters whether they be on the Right or the Left, is that their view is so skewed by their hatred, they can not possibly view anything objectively and with common sense. All you have to do is read many of the comments made here to see that.

        • Jay

          While it may come as surprise to you, there are still some folks who don’t take kindly to being lied to, to their face. Given that Don is an inveterate liar, it seems that a grand jury is the only way to find out whether, or not, Trump is guilty of breaking any laws. You’ve obviously got your panties in a rather large knot. For me, truth is what it is all about. Time will tell…if donnie has done no wrong, he’ll be vindicated. If, on the other hand, he’s been a naughty boy..too bad for him.

          • jwd

            You have once again proven my original Post. I have long since realized all Politicians lie, if they didn’t, they would never get elected. They say what it takes to get elected! I have always said, “all politicians lie, but I like the Republican lies better”. If they only promised what they knew they could do, they would not get elected, makes no difference if they are Republican or Liberal. I assume it is OK with you if your politician lies or stretches the truth! We vote for the person that we think will seek an agenda in the direction of our beliefs. I am immensely pleased with what President Trump has done! A far as the folks here that use the derogatory words to describe Trump, maybe we should all be so mentally ill as to become self made billionaires. It is like me calling George Soros a stupid person. Yes, I think he is a bad man with intentions that run counter those of the USA, but I certainly don’t think he is stupid!

  • Crewlaw

    Trump’s own words show that even he knows that his “We’ll build a wall…” schtick is just nonsensical, throwing a bone to ‘the base’, yet the suckers that bought his snake oil still won’t see it. Amazing.

    • Jay

      Too true. Just ask the contractors, the lawyers that donnie boy has stiffed on invoices.